Animals Ink and watercolor wash Life in general People Sketchbook Pages

Dogs and their People at PetVet, Part I

Pomeranian Lady at PetVet, ink and watercolor
Wonderful Pomeranian Lady at PetVet, ink and watercolor

A couple miles south of my house, is a high-priced pet shop that sells cashmere sweaters and designer collars for dogs. I don’t shop there. PetVet is a mile or two north of my house, in Richmond. They offer discounted food, medicine and vet services and draw a much less affluent clientele.

I shop there because they sell  the prescription cat food Busby needs, but I usually try to avoid going during their weekend low-cost vet clinic. I don’t like seeing  pets with people who seem unlikely to be responsible pet owners such as this group of young men and their pit bull puppies with cropped ears (a style from dogs used in fighting.)

Tough Dudes and their Pitbulls, Ink and watercolor
Tough Dudes and their Pit Bulls, Ink and watercolor

When I arrived, the parking lot was full and people were waiting inside and outside for the first-come, first-served vet visits. After I stocked up on cat food I was intrigued by all of the interesting characters and dogs and wanted to stay and sketch. But I couldn’t find a way to do it surreptitiously.

I decided to be brave and ask if I could take photos of pe0ple with their dogs; surprisingly everyone was happy to pose. The dudes above dropped their tough guy stance and smiled nicely for me. I’d much rather be drawing from life, but it was still fun sketching from my photos.

Treats while waiting, ink and watercolor
Treats while waiting, ink and watercolor

I’d like to work on my dog drawing skills so that I’d have enough confidence to go back there and sketch the waiting dogs and owners directly.

Not a Pitbull? Ink & watercolor
Not a Pit Bull? Ink & watercolor

This young lady was quite a character. As she walked past me, she turned to a guy with a really wide pitbull and said to him “Your dog is FAT!” Then she told me her puppy wasn’t a pit bull, it was a brindle and would be bigger than a pitbull. [Except brindle is a mixture of color in a dog’s coat, not a breed.]

There were so many people there with puppies, and many of those puppies were pit bulls or pit mixes. It breaks my heart to think about how that will turn out. I know how much work it is to responsibly raise a good, healthy dog and that the shelters are full of pit bulls surrendered when the cute little puppy grew up and got to be too much trouble.

I will just try to hope that all of those people and their pets have what they need for happy, healthy lives. Meanwhile, I still have another half dozen pictures to make from the day.

17 replies on “Dogs and their People at PetVet, Part I”

“…It’s a brindle…”
Yes, I’ve heard similar nonsense here. How about “Rockwheeleres. Pedagreed.”
OK, so we laugh at the ignorance, but it is sad, for the animals.
And it seems to me that your dog-sketching skills are pretty good, Jana.


Thanks Diane. It’s pretty easy to sketch from a photo but a whole different thing when they’re moving around in pubilc! I think it’s a matter of understanding their basic anatomy and shapes and then maybe it will be easier. Jana


Great sketches. I got the flavor of your time at the store/vet clinic. It upsets me too to think about the dogs that will be abandoned once things get “difficult.” How did we get to dogs being status symbols anyway?


That’s a good question Libby. And then I could see beautiful breeds like Afghan Hounds or Irish Setters being status symbols, but pit bulls? (Not to denigrate pit bulls — I know there are many people who work hard to try to improve their image and “gentrify” the breed.) But the people who want them as status symbols…well, that’s just sad, I think. Jana


These are lovely pictures. Yeah, photos are the only way sometimes as it’s a bit embarrassing staring at people and their pets to draw them.
I’m up in the middle of the night with sneezing. It’s the hayfever season it seems.


Hi Wendy, I hope you’re feeling better. That must mean it’s spring down under? I don’t have any trouble sketching people on the subway but I’m fairly hidden there. At the pet store I’d have been on much more of a public display. If I felt more confident I wouldn’t mind and I’m going to work on it. Jana


I feel like I’ve been at PetVet with you!! Love these sketches! If you want dog drawing skills I’ll send you pictures of mine! A two for one, you get to practice drawing dogs and I get to see my dogs ‘immortalized’ in your sketches!! And they are pretty happy, well cared for dogs.


Me too Carol. I appreciated her choice to go out dressed in bright colors just to enjoy them, without (I assume) worrying about what anyone else would think about a woman of a certain age and size going out dressed with such verve and dare I say flamboyance. I had that same thought about “when I am an old woman I shall wear purple” and what the hell! red and green and blue and orange! Although getting “old” has its disadvantages, being able to dress as you please is certainly one of the perks! Jana


Oh sister, I hate taking Bucky cat to the vet – stress, howls, flying cat fur – you know the drill. These sketches are wonderful, lively and expressive. They capture people with their pets really well.


Thanks Sherry. My dad was a photographer and painter and he used to take many photos of people with their pets, always looking for the similarities. It was fun to sort of “channel” my dad on this project. I just wish I was a better photographer, or a better sketcher of animals in person! Jana


Jana, your sketches are just blowing me away again – so vivid and lively and I absolutely don’t care whether they have been done from real life or photo. I don’t think that it would have been a difference with your gift!
Regarding your concerns about the pets – soooo true. I would say that most people do not realize what responsibility they have when they buy a pet and proper care AND education of the pet is something which is absolutely neglected. It is so sad. Btw – same applies for having kids unfortunately…


Thanks Petra! There was someone selling puppies in front of the store when I was there — $100 to anyone who wanted one. I was so tempted. But wanting to being a responsible pet owner myself, I knew I don’t have the time, money and energy to raise a puppy right now and shouldn’t take it on so I forced myself to not even hold the little cutie. And you’re so right about kids too…it’s hard to even imagine how much work it is until it’s too late to change your mind! Glad mine are raised and doing well. Jana


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